“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles.” ~ R. L. Stine
“Every year the literary press praises dozens if not hundreds of novels to the skies, asserting explicitly or implicitly that these books will probably not be suffering water damage in the basements of their author’s houses 20 years from now. But historically, anyway, that’s not the way the novelistic ecology works.” ~ Lev Grossman
“Buy other author’s books when you go to their events. Even if you aren’t going to read it. Even if you are going to give it away. Even if you aren’t interested. Not just for the author but for the bookstore. It’s karma and just plain good manners.” ~ M. J. Rose
Okay, I admit it, I know almost nothing about how to market and promote my book. I loved writing it, even on the hard days. But I get a headache when I try to make a plan to market it.
The other day I was fretting about how to spread the word that I’ve published a book. I mean isn’t that a great accomplishment? Yes, it is and I feel good about that, but there are thousands, perhaps even millions of books published every day. So how do I toot my horn loud enough so that people will pay attention to my work, but not become annoying with roboposts on social media?
There are so many books and articles with tips for the independent author about how to “build your brand,” or how to “build your audience.” They say you’ve got to build a social media presence, create an email list, write a blog, do a podcast, or video series to help you find your target audience. Of course you have to take time to figure out who your target audience is while doing all that. I wish I could find someone to do all the marketing for me. But since I don’t have a big publishing firm behind me, I have to do it myself. Which means I keep reading and trying to expand my social media reach. Some tips are helpful, but to be honest, most of it makes my head spin and my heart sink.
I hit upon this fantastic idea to search for women writers who might be willing to review my book on their blogs and I came across an Arizona writer who specializes in writing reviews for little known women authors. Aha! I thought I’d hit the jackpot when she said the description of my book sounded interesting and she was willing to review my book. Then, in subsequent emails, she mentioned that she didn’t like fantasy and my heart sank. Of course she wanted me to buy and review her book in return. (I’m sending mine to her for free.) So, what to do? I told her that my book was kind of on the order of Outlander, and not surprisingly she wrote back that she hadn’t read the series, that’s how much she hates fantasy. Okay, by this point I was getting extremely frustrated. She is not the first person I’ve encountered who says they hate fantasy, and won’t even try reading it. To me, reading lots of genres of books is what keeps my reading life interesting. On the other hand, fantasy is like eating my favorite comfort food. If I’m feeling upset, or bored, I go choose a fantasy book to lose myself in. Some are fantastic, others not so much, but when I hit a gem of a book, I follow that author.
Here’s the thing, my book, The Space Between Time, and Outlander, are not strictly fantasy. They are really in a new category called magical realism. Both books have elements of historical fiction, while including time travel, and a bit of intrigue and romance thrown in. They’re kind of a hodgepodge of genres most of them with realistic settings and events. Isabel Allende’s book The House of the Spirits is always referenced when talking about magical realism. But, it’s not a category we could choose when publishing my book. So, what do I call The Space Between Time, and how do I find my audience? Fortunately, we had a wide range of tags we could attach to my book description, from women’s fiction, to fantasy, to historical.
The other day I was contemplating this marketing dilemma just before meditating. And, behold, in my meditation an answer came to me. Go join fantasy groups on my social media sites. There are many shades of fantasy, and among those fans must be people who love magical realism, or soft core fantasy as one of my students calls it. While I was doing that, another thought came to me to join sites, and organizations that are for women writers, and about women’s fiction.
So, even though my head still spins after spending time networking with these groups, I do feel like eventually, I will find my readers.
Having written all of the above, I challenge those of you who say you don’t like fantasy, to read a book by a friend of mine, Stacy Bennett. The book is Quest of the Dreamwalker. I just finished rereading this book because my sister, niece, brother-in-law, and I have formed a book club group. They wanted me to suggest a book, and since we’re all lovers of fantasy, I suggested, Quest of the Dreamwalker. It’s a book I loved when I first read it, and have continued to think about long after I finished the last page. To me well written fantasy books such as this, help me get a better perspective on human experience, and human nature. Maybe it’s because I’m a magnet for other people’s feelings, but sometimes books that are set in my time period are too jarring. If it could happen to me or my neighbors, then I’m reluctant to read the book. But, historical fiction, mystery and suspence, fantasy, magical realism, even classic literature help me separate from the situation a bit, while still experiencing the story along with the characters.
Here is a short description of Quest of the Dreamwalker, from my perspective. As Cara and Falin, helped by Khoury, Archer and Bradan, face danger from an evil sorcerer, they try to unravel who they are, and what their aborted purpose might be. In the process we get glimpses of their hopes, fears, grief, love, and connection to one another. While the book does take place in a made up world, and there are sorcerers, and a reluctant dragon, this book could almost be classified as medieval historical fiction. There are shamanic type characters and paranormal experiences, but if you’ve read The Shack, or The Alchemist, you’re used to that kind of thing anyway. Think about it, aren’t dark sorcerers just a representation of the darker side of human nature? And dragons, as part of our mythology, represent greed, or intelligence, or love of the land, or even wisdom. To me the main themes of this book are the same as most general fiction. It involves characters who are wounded and dealing with unhealed grief and pain. They are seeking self-discovery, finding their purpose, and finding and expressing love. I highly recommend this book, even to those of you who might not think you like fantasy.
Okay I’ve done my good deed for the day. I will continue to explore genres of fiction that I might normally shy away from. I will also continue to learn how best to promote my work.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.